Huawei’s high-end phones have been wowing reviewers and customers in the Canadian market since 2017 and the Huawei smartwatch was equally impressive when it was added last year. Now, just in time for back-to-school (or back-to-work), Canada is finally seeing a roll-out of their MateBook series with three new impressive Huawei laptops, each targeting a different audience.
The high-end MateBook X Pro is a $2500 sleek 14″ dream machine, the MateBook 13 is a compact ultrabook at C$1900, and the MateBook D 15 targets the sub-C$1000 mainstream user with a high value package, 15.6″ display laptop coming in at C$950. We decided to start with a review of the most accessible and affordable device in the lineup, the MateBook D 15, a perfect laptop for students and those of us working long hours from home.
A really well designed and good looking laptop for the price
Huawei delivers a lot of bang for your buck in all its devices and it’s no different here. The MateBook D 15 simply looks and feels like a more expensive laptop. This is mostly thanks to a premium design aesthetic and a solid aluminum chassis with a smooth texture in a “Mystic” silver colour.
The device weighs in at a trim 1.53 kg, making it very comfortable when traveling to school or the office, to your local café or around the world.
Thin bezels frame the 15.6″ IPS display (1920 x 1080), and you’ll notice the absence of a camera embedded in the top bezel like most other laptops. That’s because Huawei has put the webcam at the top of the keypad as a clickable key that can open or close the camera when you need it – removing any worries that someone or something might be watching you.
The quality of the display is not particularly eye-popping, as it is on the higher priced Matebook models, but it offers fair value for the price, and it’s similar to many other laptops in its class. In other words, perfectly fine for surfing, work, and standard Netflix watching and gaming (although we highly recommend using a larger second monitor to boost productivity and your entertainment experience at your home desk or at the office).
The top right power button also serves as a fingerprint reader for easy login (no facial recognition on the D 15). The keyboard, with its low profile plastic chicklets work feel fine although they are not back-lit, which obviously doesn’t impact performance but some consumers do like the feature. The touchpad is large and responsive, up there with some of the better ones we’ve tried.
Fast performance, even gaming, while staying cool and quiet
Running the latest Windows 10 OS, the D 15 fires up very quickly with help from a speedy AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM and an 256 GB SSD.
We noticed the Huawei website listed the D 15 as having a 512 GB SSD in the specs, which would be a worthwhile upgrade option as 256 GB might not be enough these days, especially if you’re planning on making the D 15 your main computer.
Sticking with AMD the Matebook D 15 sports Radeon Vega 8 graphics, which makes video fly, and even offers some decent gaming experiences, for example, Fortnite at 60fps. While under normal use or more demanding gaming sessions the MateBook D 15 remains impressively cool, and quiet – an important quality in a laptop that can often indicate a better chance of a longer lifespan.
The Matebook D 15 charges with an adapter that plugs into a modern USB-C slot on the D 15, also letting you charge your phone from the same slot. The battery, at 42 Wh, is one of the areas where cost savings kicked in to keep the D 15 under C$1000, nevertheless, it’s an impressively fast charger that takes a dead battery to 55% in a only 30 minutes. Under normal usage, you’ll likely get 3-4 hours of usage before needing to plug in.
A bonus for Huawei phone users
Beyond all the admittedly still sometimes buggy wireless file and screen sharing capabilities in Window 10, Huawei has a special treat for users of its smartphones. Multi- screen collaboration with Huawei Share allows for the easiest pairing of phone and laptop we’ve ever seen. We mostly used it for the transfer of music and video files, and backing up and then sorting our photos collections (several GB worth). It was effortless, very fast, and makes us wonder why this isn’t a feature for all laptops and phones in 2020.
It is a strong enough feature to highly recommend any Huawei phone owner to stay within the Huawei family for their laptop as well. Obviously, building an brand ecosystem where laptops, phones, smartwatches and other devices all interact seamlessly is a page out of Apple’s playbook – but Huawei seems to be doing it better and with products that provide noticeably better features and performance for the price.
Final thoughts, and our recommendation
While the Huawei MateBook D 15 isn’t perfect (something that its more expensive siblings in the MateBook lineup come close to approaching) it packs a lot of performance into a handsome and sturdy silver aluminum chassis. It’s a top contender in its class, and a no-brainer if you already have or hope to purchase a Huawei phone thanks to file and screen sharing features.
It’s recommended for students, work-from-home employees, small business owners or world travelers looking for a quality laptop under $1000.
The Verdict: Faze Highly Recommends This Laptop
Take a closer look at Huawei’s multi-screen collaboration features with Huawei Share that the new MateBooks all support. We used it to pair our Huawei P30 Pro phone and MateBook D 15 and loved the function, especially for transferring music files, videos and cleaning up photo collections.